The Spreepark is an abandoned amusement park that has been laying abandoned close to the heart of Berlin for, at least, 15 years. When you enter the park and start walking around, you can see the remnants of the previous decades, and this is why this location is so unusual for people.
From all the urban explorers that want to capture its decay to the hipsters that want to photograph something that looks cool.
I remember first learning about this park back when Marcela came to Berlin for the first time, back in 2009. I don’t think she visited the place, but I remember her talking to me about an abandoned amusement park in the middle of Berlin.
A couple of years later, I watched a movie called Hannah that had a lot of scenes from the German capital. And some of these scenes were filmed at Spreepark, as I learned later at IMDB.
But the first time I visited the place was back in 2012. I was living in Berlin for a little over six months and, together with a friend, I decided to jump the fence and explore the park after I read about it on Abandoned Berlin. But our plan didn’t work. We were naive and ignored the number of people walking around the park, and we didn’t have the guts to jump the fence and try our luck.
My only visit happened in the summer of 2016 with the guys from Canal Alemanizando – they have a video about our afternoon there – and it was clear to me that too much time has passed. The city of Berlin was already the owner of the park, and it was cleaning its decaying attractions. There were mountains of debris and trash everywhere. Some of the famous dinosaurs were gone, and a lot of tapes was used to create “safe paths” between all the forgotten attractions there.
Nowadays, some tours take you through the Spreepark before it finally opens to the public. But let me talk about the history of the place before I tell you how to visit this abandoned amusement park in Berlin.
A Short History Lesson about the Spreepark
When it opened to the public, back in 1969, the Spreepark was called Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin, and it was located in East Germany. This amusement park was the only permanent amusement park in the country, and it was the only of its type of park in Berlin, East and West. Because of it, the park was hugely popular with visitors.
The park opened on October 4, 1969, to celebrate 20 years of East Germany and a lot of people went to Planterwald to play around and enjoy the gorgeous city view from the top of a 40-meters tall Ferris wheel. Twenty years later, this Ferris wheel was updated, but it was close to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the park was going downhill them.
With the end of East Germany, the park lost its source of money and, by 1991, it was being sold for whoever had the money to buy it. It seems like there were seven buyers aligned but, in the end, the park was purchased but Norbert Witte, who renamed it Spreepark. This was the beginning of a new era for the park.
As Spreepark, the amusement park got new modern attractions, and its number of visitor reached more than a million people a year! But a lot had changed.
Norbert Witte replaced the asphalted area with grass, and the park was looking more and more like a western-styled amusement park with a western looking town, watercourses, a stage for plays, roller coasters. With all these changes, the cost of running the park skyrocketed, even with a large number of visitors.
The price of admission increased but the difficulty in reaching the place by public transport and the lack of a parking lot contributed to a drop in visitors. By 2001, Spreepark received less than 400 thousand people, and it was the end of the park. But this is not the end of the story here. This is when everything becomes weirder.
In January 2002, Norbert Witte took his family, and some of his closest co-workers, to Lima, in Peru. They shipped six attractions there in containers which were supposed to be going to repair. But the story is different. Norbert Witte was smuggling cocaine to Germany to pay millions of Euros in debt that the Spreepark was causing him. And the story is so crazy that there is a documentary that tells it better than anything I could write.
The documentary is called Achterbahn, and it shows how the Spreepark used to be, how Norbert Witte turned it into a new park and his life before it. It talks about his drug smuggling arrest and how his son got to pay the price for his mistakes in jail in Peru.
After all these problems, the Spreepark was shut down in early 2002, and the area fell in disrepair and nature started taking over everything. In 2011, the movie Hannah had some scenes filmed there, and this is how I first saw the park.
In 2014, a fire changed the path of the park, and it was ruled arson. Because of it, a new, improved fence was installed, and it became more complicated for people to explore the area. In 2016, the area was taken over by a company called Grün Berlin GmbH, that is owned by the City of Berlin. They have an objective to transform the abandoned Spreepark into a cultural location in Berlin, and they have been working hard on that since then.
Nowadays, many of the abandoned attractions in the park have been removed. And a lot of work had been made to turn the Spreepark into a cultural center and park in Planterwald. According to their website, the plans are going well, and they have massive support from the community to turn this park into something useful for the people of Berlin.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this will be.
Like I said before, some tours take you through the Spreepark, and they happen on the weekends in September, and they cost €5. There are also English speaking tours. You can learn all about it on their website.
The Abandoned SpreePark in Berlin
Berlin, 12437 – Germany
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